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tv   Smerconish  CNN  October 9, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PDT

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some parents need detention. i'm michael smerconish in philadelphia. are you willing to serve on a local school board? before you answer, let me roll some tape. what you're watching is a montage at recent events at school board meetings across the country. behavior has been so appalling by parents that it led attorney general merrick garland to ask the fbi and u.s. attorneys to combat a spike in harassment, intimidation and violent threats. the issue hits home with me because my public high school's auditorium was recently the scene of such a contentious meeting. i read about it in the local weekly newspaper, the bucks county herald.
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the high school auditorium was being used because attendance was anticipated to be so large for a meeting where covid masks were to be discussed. the chief medical officer and the ceo for the local hospital were there trying to educate the community and board members about covid transmission. when the medical officer spoke some attendees screamed "lies" and booed him down. there was a vote taken whether masks could be required in public school tim. afterwards, one of the board members resigned saying i'm done with the bullying tonight. he said he received death threats. he and his wife received death threats. who would blame him? you take a job in your community and you're awarded with stalking and death threats. and he's not alone. there are many reports of school board members across the
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country. what worries me who will fill it? probably the kooks. it's just the latest of the public discourse being led by the loudest voices. so it's no wonder that a.g. garland is getting involved. this office his office released a statement which included this, quote in recent months there's been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools. while spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our constitution, that protection did is not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views. threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values. those who dedicate their time and energy ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment
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deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety." of course, that's not the way it's interpreted in some quarters. josh hawley asked this of a doj official defending the new policy. >> with parents waiting sometimes for hours to speak at a local school board meeting to express concerns about critical race theory or the masking of their students, particularly young children, is that in and of itself -- is that harassment and intimidation? >> well, the answer is, of course, not. but harassment and intimidation is defined by social media like this. sent to the board chair in sarasota, florida, who will join me in just a moment. stay the f out of our lives. you don't get to take those decisions, and if you try, you won't like the outcome, i promise you that. or shut your f'ing mouth when it comes to parenting. parents are going to kick down the door and drag you out by your hair.
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or your power trip will end, and this house of cards will collapse with you under it, i hope. plus, a wanted poster. of her recirculated on social media saying she was guilty of child abuse. on tuesday, the "new york post" put this copy on its cover saying parents and justices are slamming the just department's decision to bring on the fbi to investigation a spike in threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff, and is likening their protests of woke policies such as critical race theory. seeing the a.g. actions as intended to stifle to enable mask mandates and spread of critical race theory. the post quotes this tweet by the vice president of investigations and strategies of
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parents implementation of school boards with so-called woke ideas into the curriculum such as critical race theory. dear merrick garland and christopher wray, this is what domestic terrorism looks like? you're criminalizing america and you owe an apology. sorry, there's not a widespread policy afoot. that issue is given outside influence and attention over at fox. most of the unruliness that's taking place in school board meetings across the country is by people who have been whipped into a frenzy over masks and vaccination by the same medial outlets who now tell us that merrick garland wants to criminalize the town square, despite this statement recognizing spirited debate. these angry parents are like school in the summertime. no class. if you're going to serve in the public arena, your face will be
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marred by dust and sweat. but hopefully not your own blood. the temperature's too hot. the climate's too dangerous. somebody's going to get hurt. better we act before that happens. sarasota county, florida, has been one of many sites of civil unrest. this was the scene at a board meeting in august, as many parents displayed their opposition to the implementation of a school mask mandate which ultimately passed. when protesters then gathered outside the home of the board chairwoman, jimmy kimmel showed it on his program. >> this is from sarasota, florida. so, they have a mask mandate for students. they want the kids to wear masks which doesn't seem like a lot to ask during a pandemic. but it upset some parents so much, they decided to stage a protest outside the chairwoman of the school board member's house. >> we see you in there we want you to come out for grievances.
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>> okay, says a guy who is wearing a mask as he walks by -- what is going on! what is wrong with these people. [ applause ] >> funny but sad, right? >> sarasota school board chairwoman shirley brown joins me now. thanks so much for being here. what has been the worst with what you had to deal with in terms of community or parental action? >> well, i think one of the worst things is the actions at the board meetings, you know, the calling of names, tyrant, marxist, communist, we're going to get you. it's kind of ironic, after serving 15 years i decided not to run again for re-election. but that doesn't matter. it doesn't stop their threats. and it's the threats on social media. they'll follow you, they'll take movies of you.
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then if smith cummiomes to the d to speak in favor of the mask mandates, they'll take clips those of and do background information, posting our addresses on social media. you know, these are things if they were the children in schools doing it to other students, yes, they would be reprimanded for it. but, you know, i'm a public official, so i guess i'm open prey. >> well, i don't know. i think -- i think it comes with the territory to be subject to criticism, for sure. but not to be subject to some of those menacing essential media posts. or a wanted picture that has your image on it. you heard me in my commentary. what i'm most concerned about is the fact that the shirley browns are going to get out, right? i know in your case, your husband's retired, there are other things you want to do. i worry that the very people who are responsible for this obnoxious, threatening behavior are going to be the ones that fill the void.
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do you share that concern? >> i'm absolutely concerned about that. we've got the same people that are behind starting these organizations, you know, like moms for liberty as part of our republican state committee. and they're part of that. and they're actively working to make sure that they get conservative school board members elected across the state. and they've got -- they've got millions of dollars put into that, to go at the school board elections. but let me tell you, at the same time, there's a lot of other parents that care. and they're afraid to come to the meetings, because when they're at the meetings, they get harassed by these people. but there are people standing up now that say, no, we need to protect our public schools. and that's what it is. you know, i'm not afraid of a fight. i mean, especially when you're talking about the public education of our kids. because i know the public schools have been under attack. when i go to tallahassee, they
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don't call them public schools. they call them government schools. and they want to shut down our schools and move kids over to charter schools and private schools, without the oversight of the state. and that's wrong. public schools -- you know, the bulldozer that levels the playing field of opportunities in our country. public schools have helped to make this country great. and we will protect them and more people are coming forward that will, of course, they're staying in the background now, because of these people who come to the meetings that are so obnoxious at times. but, you know, we don't -- >> quick final question. >> yes, go ahead. >> a quick final question, if i might. how much of this is about critical race theory? and is that even a part of the curricula in sarasota? >> oh, the governor has said that critical race theory is not a part of our agenda. but anytime anybody mentions
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black lives matter, you know, that has to be pulled from a classroom. you know, that's kind of disturbing to me, that they are shutting down, and what i call whitewashing our american history. so, critical race theory, a lot of times, they'll point to those things and say that's critical race. when it really isn't. it's teaching the truth. but we can't mention black lives matter or having in like that in our schools anymore. >> but my point is that parents are being whipped into a frenzy on a subject that you're not even dealing with and it's not even taught in your schools. am i right in saying that? >> right. it's banned from the state standards. and the governor is saying, what we can and can't teach in our schools. and they're very strict on that. and if they find anything in it, they're pulling these things. but what we're also doing is encouraging parents to look at what, and we've given the rights
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to parents and others to examine everything in our schools. it's scaring a lot of our teachers, too. they're getting frustrated because they're having complaints all the time, too. it's not just school board. they're going after some of our teachers and putting them in an awkward position, too. and when a parent saw that a teacher signed something that supported critical race theory in teaching accurate history, they put those teachers' addresses up on social media, too. they're not only going after school board members, they're ripped up in a frenzy. >> that's the real intimidation. the real intimidation is shutting down those voices. and yet, the complaint is, oh, parents are being stifled by the attorney general. shirley brown, thank you. i really appreciate you having been here. wish you good things. >> thank you very much. what are your thoughts? tweet me @smerconish. go to my facebook page, youtube. wherever you find me.
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i'll read responses. kathryn, twitter, smerconish, if the public is getting that angry perhaps the school board members should get off their high horses and listen to the public they are elected to represent. no, joseph, they shouldn't listen to the nastiest people that come out. unfortunately, the loud voices, the unruly ones, this is a much bigger part of the country generally are drowning out the sanity. the sane folks aren't the ones that come out, they're the ones at home because they're putting the kids to bed and working and doing other things. it's the fringes who are overly represented. and no, i don't want them calling all the shots. they should be represented but not calling all the shots. up ahead, the latest jobses report is bad news for the biden administration but also confusing. why is the number of unfilled jobs higher than the number of unemployed americans. a surprising answer is coming up which leads me to this week's
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survey question, go to my survey question and answer the question -- why aren't more people working? is it pay or the pandemic's impact on people's psychology? (brad) apartments-dot-com has the most pet-friendly listings for pet loving renters. so you might say that we've brought more joy to more sweet, innocent and adorable little creatures than any other site. (employee) ow, stop it. (brad) apartments-dot-com. the most popular place to find a place. listerine® cleans virtually 100%. helping to prevent gum disease and bad breath. never settle for 25%. always go for 100. bring out the bold™ this isn't just a walk up the stairs. when you have an irregular heartbeat, it's more.
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the new job numbers are in. they're bad news for the biden administration. why is this happening? in september, u.s. employers added only 194,000 jobs down from 336,000 in august. and far below the more than 1 million plus jobs added in july. agency of the last business day in july, the number of job openings in the united states was 10.9 million. and as of september, 7.7 million americans are unemployed. so if there's a job for everyone, why is every job not filled. jamie ayton offers a provocative
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answer in the piece for dr. aton joins me. you study psychology. the psychology of those caught up in some form of disaster. what is it that you see in the pandemic as it relates to jobs? >> well, michael, thanks for having me, i think one of the biggest things that has stood out to me, having studied disasters including covid-19, is that what's happening isn't just about pay. but it's much deeper, what's happening, this trauma of going through covid-19, is causing people to re-evaluate their life, including their careers and looking for better ways to live. which means businesses are going to have to change the way they do things if they want to retain and attract new employees. >> i get radio callers.
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callers to my radio program, day in and day out, who are small business people who say wait a minute, it's all about the government paying too much money. eviction forbearance, or enhanced unemployment benefits. i as a small business person are now competing with the federal government. but you think it's more than that? >> absolutely. you know, one of the things that small businesses can offer that government can't offer to their employees is a number of different factors having a center of community, finding mean and purpose where they work, being able to serve their communities. the small business owner can do really small things, creating opportunities hiring within that can go a long way because people are looking for opportunities for growth. >> well, dr. aten, you anticipated my next question, maybe i'm a franchise for a fast food company or some other type of small business, there are many struggling to fill jobs. give me a tip, if you're right, and it's more psychology than
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pay. and you do acknowledge pay is a factor, what should i be doing to attract a workforce? >> one of the things you can really start to do is really focus on creating that opportunity for the worker. and that can range from anything from providing additional training to help them improving their skill set. helping them find new ways to be able to serve underserved individuals in their own communities. and if you're a small business owner and you're still around hiring, you have a passion for what you do, share that portion with your employees help to catch that vision and join into something bigger than themselves. >> here's what you wrote in part, we'll put this on the screen, we found that being exposed to traumatic events like the pandemic can have a profound impact on five key areas of your life. appreciation of life, social relationships, openness to possibilities. personal strength and existential change. and, you know, the question i ask is, if you're right and it's psychology and they're looking for something more fulfilling
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from life, how can they afford not to be working today? which takes me back to my earlier point, maybe because they've been able to save resources from enhanced unemployment benefits, or from eviction forbearance in not having to pay rent. you get the final word. >> well, one of the things i would really encourage is that we create ways for employees to be able to speak more into the opportunities that they're looking for. if you're an employer, be listening to those around you. are they looking for more flexible work? are they looking for different ways to spend more time with their family? it's time that we start to change things. >> dr. aten, thanks so much, you've inspired today's survey question. >> thanks for having me. >> what do we have from the world of twitter, i believe. when the government stops subsidizing not working they will go back for work. everyone is trying to make it complicated when it's not. also people with no skills have been told they deserve $20 an
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hour by the same people so that doesn't help either. wade that is a viewpoint that you've just expressed that i hear time and again from small business people who say they can't attract a workforce. dr. aten says pay's got something to do with it for sure, but we need to be looking at the pandemic as an epiphany moment, aka another disaster, for example, katrina. and the people who had the ability to make a life change are seizing that opportunity. it's a great survey question go to and answer this week's question. why aren't more people working? why if there's a job out there for everybody out there, theoretically, is it pay or the pandemic's impact on people's psychology? can't wait to see the result on that. up ahead, what if america's new dangerous news source is your facebook feed? as the whistle-blower revealed it's algorithms designed to discord. can it be fixed?
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what if i told you this week's most important news story is about a social media platform? i know. there's no shortage of news this right? the mess on capitol hill. the troubling jobs report. the president's plummeting poll numbers. energy costs. supply chain issues. the search for brian laundrie. my favorite, captain kirk really going into space. but in this climate, the most important long-term story is none of the above. it's facebook and its on going
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impact and effect of our news diet. by now, we've all heard about the facebook whistle-blower frances haugen who revealed herself on "60 minutes" and testified on congress. she's oanalyzed the impact of facebook to big tobacco. and because of facebook being toxic to teen girls and the impact on body image. it goes to the heart of our democracy, for a long time i tried to educate about the perils of media. yet so few seem to exercise that opportunity. instead, we hunker down in our silos of ideological media world that reaffirm our previously held views instead of sampling thought. the climate won't say, i say, until more of us change the
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channel. for many, facebook controls the remote. their news theme where users get a constantly updated personalized source of news and personal information like photos is where most of the platform's 3 billion users spend their time. advertising here and at instagram accounts for $86 billion in facebook's revenue last year. what determines what gets in each user's feed? that would be facebook's proprietary algorithm. it considers what you know of your interests and associations, and feeds you content to keep you hooked. and in 2018 where the algorithm's formula was changed supposedly to improve a user's well-being, it instead rewarded the angriest most divisive voices. think about a friend or relative whoextreme, the
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toxicity prefl svalent among reshares researchers noted in internal memos. innodiana sentra vise outlets a educate consumers about being overly independent on one source. it's time to restore some decorum and stop ceding to the town square to alloudest voices. whether in print, tv or online. what can be done about the-a g algorithm on facebook. my next guest wrote the book about the 1960 decency act which reads no provider of an interactive computer service shall be treated as a publisher
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or speak of any information provided by another information provider. joining me, jeff cossa, and the co-writer of a peiece in "the washington post". why outlawing harmful social media content would face an uphill legal battle. he speaks here in his own behalf and not in a official capacity. i read your op-ed in "the washington post" and it bummed me out. is there nothing we can do about the algorithm issue. >> there's a lot of things we can do, one of the things, dealing with algorithms and it's an incredibly important debate that frances haugen's testimony and disclosure has shed light on is, first that we need much more transparency. we do not know what is going on at the biggest tech companies.
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section 230 that you mentioned was basically passed to give the platforms the flexibility and breathing room to develop moderation practices and curation practices that best serve their users. they're very market-based theories but the problem with markets they need transparency to work. i can speak as someone who researches cyber security law, it is easier for me to go to the intelligence community and get information from them than it is to go to a big tech company. and that should not be the case. we need far more insight and frances haugen has done a tremendous public service in at least shedding some light, but we need a lot more. >> and jeff, professor kosseff, the 46 at facebook acknowledge this in an anticipatory statement when she was about to
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go on "60 minutes." here's part of it, in january 2018, we made ranching changes to promote meaningful social interactions so that you would see more content from friends and family. this change was haechl driven by external and internal research that showed that meaningful engagement with friends and family on that platform. of course, everyone has a rogue uncle or old school classmate who holds strong or extreme views. and we've developed tools developed industry-leading tools to remove hateful content and reduce the distribution of problematic content. that sounds impressive, but when you factor in there's 3 billion users that's a lot of hate. so what's the solution? >> well, it is a lot of hate.
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i'm not a public relations expert so i won't comment on how facebook has handled all of these disclosures publicly. but what i will say, hate speech in the united states like other jurisdictions is constitutionally protected. so hate speech alone, we can't just pass a law saying platforms must remove it. so section 230 is basically the idea that if platforms have flexibility, they'll be able to moderate that users don't mind. the problem with that, content moderation at scale is incredibly difficult. i'm not saying to throw our hands in the air. that's why transparency and privacy regulations are so important. i think we're just now getting serious about it to figure out how do we look for solutions. i think it's a debate that should have been had five or ten years ago, but i'm glad we're having it now. >> so the trial lawyer in me says get rid of section 230.
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they're then at least open to defamation actions and police other platforms, obviously not just facebook, similar platforms. is that not a solution? >> so, the problem with that, is first and one thing i really stress is that the internet is not just facebook. the internet is yelp. it's glass door. it's a community site that allows user comments. i think if you made that change, first off again, defamation is something that you can sue over. but there's a lot of harmful content especially in the current debate that is constitutionally protected. so that's a real challenge. but even if you were to make that change, i think facebook would survive these changes to 230. i mean, i'm that d.c. and i can't go -- >> i'm not looking to take them down. i love it. i love all of these. something's got to change. give me the final comment, if i might on this one. and it's this -- if you go online in search of a product, a
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trip, you're going to take a vacation, you're bombarded with ads they've got your number. and you know it. i think we're wise to that now. i don't think people understand the power exhibited by facebook in determining what's in your news feed. you got people thinking they're well read when in fact they're being reaffirmed beliefs that you already had because facebook knows what you looked at before. thank you for being here. you did really write the book on the subject. we appreciate your expertise. >> let's check in on tweets and social media comment including from facebook, by the way. people who have been damaged need to sue social media companies for knowingly allow harmful content to air just like dominion voting. that will take me in a different direction so i'll ignore the dominion part. the issue very simplified, congress enabled facebook and other social media platforms to be treated like verizon or ma
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bell in the old days. in other words, we don't sue a telecom provider for news that goes across their wire. unlike a newspaper or tv outlet, where if you disburse defamatory comment, you're going to be on the hook for it. therein lies the question, how should we be treating facebook? how should we be treating the other social media platforms like the phone company, or like the newspaper. go to my website, why aren't people working? is it the pay or the impact on people's psychology. still to come, a patient in dire need of a kidney transplant got a letter from the hospital warning her that if she and her donor deny the vaccine, they will be denied. joining me sanjay gupta, with
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i know the best coffee spot in town. i can make a rustic cabin feel modern. i am a guidebook for guests. i can make an indoorsy person, outdoorsy. i give families a home, not just a place to stay. i am a vrbo host. ♪ ♪ an increasing number of americans in need of organ transplants are now facing a new requirement before they can get the procedure. being vaccinated against covid-19. several hospitals are pumping patients who refuse the vaccine either down or off crowded organ wait wait-lists. in colorado, one such patient has been taking her case to the public. the 56-year-old is in stage 5 of
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chronic kidney disease. both she and the donor refusing the vaccine citing religious exemptions and unsafety are effectiveness. and the governor colorado made public the letter and said this on facebook live. >> this is life-saving care. that's incredibly frustrating, incredibly sad, incredibly disgust that uc health would make this type of a decision and impact an individual in such a dramatic and profound way. >> litani has antibodies have having some covid and says i feel like i'm being coerced into having to wait and see and that i have to take the shot for the life saving transplant. joining me, cnn's dr. sanjay gupta, chief medical officer. and author of the book "world war c."
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dr. sanjay, i was reading the book and you go is into covid. that i already have covid and why bother with the vaccine? there's this transplant patient. how do you see? >> first of all, i don't think people should see it as a punishment. there are prepandemic requirements when someone gets a transplant. they get immunosuppressive drugs and a vaccine illness can be worse causing death at some points. and also religion. it's interesting, michael, there's no religion that prohibits vaccination. and the line is the use of fetal
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cell, i don't know if the vatican, but pope francis weighed in saying these vaccines are acceptable even if fetal cell lines are used in this manner. but natural immunity. there's data that came out saying if you have natural immunity, you've had covid in the past, you have probably pretty good protection at least for a period of time. what seems to be at issue, though, michael, we still don't know how long that protection lasts, nor do we know the breadth of that protection, meaning how good does it protect against the variants, delta variant, or the alpha, one of the other variants. we have a known entity with the vaccine that is known to be safe and effective. 6 million shots have been given out around the world. and i think it's why, ultimately, the american society of transplant medicine, they say everyone should be vaccinated. they can just make a recommendation. they have no mandate power.
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they just recommend everyone should be vaccinated for all those reasons. it's thorny, for sure. but that's how these major in fact organizations land on it. >> something else from the book if i can. you quote dr. robert redfield explaining thousand that it makes no sense to go from animal to efficiency. and this is about the conversation about the wuhan lab. what's the short version of where you come out on the origin, as of what you know now? >> well, i think if i had to place a bet, michael, i would still say this likely spilled over from animals to humans. why? naturally occurring, why? because that's how most pathogens have emerged in the past. that's just the odds, playing the odds. the summary of it is, there is a real lab leak theory that this may have been studied in a lab and leaked. one way that could be dispensed with if the chinese government
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wanted that would be to open the labs, provide all of the data, put up this database that went down in september of 2019, put it back up. was there any evidence of this particular virus in that database. the problem is, they haven't done it. there's a huge amount of opacity around this issue. and that's fuelling a lot of suspicion, frankly, understandably. i covered sars, back in 2003, michael, the original sars, there was a lot of opaqueness at that point as well. it took months for the chinese government to disclose that was circulating. there's evidence of this as well. they took time before they released to the world. that's going to take suspicions, from animals to lab. that's the case but why there's the turnup of the noninstitute
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of virology. >> i read the book. all of them don't include francesed for coppola. i'll leave that there. >> thank you. >> from the world of twitter, what do we have, kathryn? this goes against the first hippocratic oath of do no harm. this is insanity. how is this even a topic with you. smerconish. i used to think so highly of you. j.s., the issue here is that someone wants an organ, right? there are conditions imposed on them in any scenario, you know, to lead a healthy lifestyle. we'll give you this organ, they're in sort supply, and there are requirements that come with it. in this case, the requirement is you're going to now decrease your likelihood of survival because you won't get vaccinated. get vaccinated and here's the
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organ. what about me as an organ donor on my driver's license. i have the expectation that you'll take still to come, more of your tweets and comments. make sure you are voting on my web site at why aren't people working? is it pay or psychology? (brad) everyone is discovering the power of 5g. but we've been helping millions of renters get into 5g for years... and also 6g. and 4c. and 2r. and 7l... apartments-dot-com. the most popular place to find a place. listerine® cleans virtually 100%. helping to prevent gum disease and bad breath. never settle for 25%. always go for 100.
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time to see how you responded to the survey question at why aren't people working? we gave two choices. pay or the impact on the
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psychology as per my guest earlier in the show. 2/3 say it is all about the pay issue. a 1/3 say it is the psychology. as usual, my view is the answer, the real answer is somewhere in between both of those. quick social media reaction if i have time. what do we have? smerconish, michael, people want to work, employers want them to work for the same or even less m money. we know the cost of living went up since the beginning of the pandemic. anthony, the government made it through enhanced unemployment benefits and forebearance, they made it a choice of a job you won't do. it is the pay and psychology of it. see you next week. age before beauty? why not both? visibly diminish wrinkled skin in... crepe corrector lotion... only from gold bond.
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shingles? oh... you mean bill. he's been a real pain. again with the bill... what? it looks like a face. ...hearing about it 24/7 is painful enough... i don't want to catch it. well, you can't catch shingles, but the virus that causes it may already be inside you. does that mean bill might have company? - stop. you know shingles can be prevented. shingles can be whaaaaat? yeah prevented. you can get vaccinated. oh, so... i guess it's just you, me and bill then. i'm making my appointment. bill's all yours... 50 years or older?
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good morning. thanks for joining us this saturday, october 9th. i'm boris sanchesanchez. >> i'm laura jarrett. you are in the cnn newsroom. we begin with good news. a reason for hope. the u.s. is beginning to head in the right direction when it comes to covid-19. hospitalizations and cases and deaths are continuing to fall nationwide. new covid infeio